At its entrance are the remains of the Bab al-Qarafa, an old gate in the city walls giving access the Qarafa and which was rebuilt in the 15th century by Sultan Qaitbay. [7] The most significant foundation here appears to have been the Zawiya of Shaykh Zayn al-Din Yusuf in 1299, which attracted pilgrims and formed the core of a new habitable district which later became the neighbourhood of al-Qadiriya. Her mausoleum was accompanied by a khanqah for Sufis, which became a recurring architectural format for future funerary complexes. The viewer's first introduction to Hamunaptra is when Brendan Fraser's Rick O'Connell and his military unit in the Foreign Legion come across it in the desert. The City of the Dead has been characterized as a slum;[18] however, this characterization is not endorsed by everyone and has been criticized for relying too heavily on the story of the "tomb-dwellers" (people squatting in the tomb structures), whose existence has been sensationalized in the media and whose numbers are almost certainly greatly exaggerated or misconstrued. It is also known as the Mamluk Desert Cemetery (Arabic: صحراء المماليك, Saharet Al Mamalik, "Desert of the Mamluks"). [7] Behind (east of) her mosque stand the Tombs of the Abbasid Caliphs, a mausoleum which holds the remains of the successors of the Abbasid Caliphs of Baghdad. Also notable are the large funerary complexes of Amir Qurqumas and Sultan Inal further north, along with other smaller but prominent mausoleums topped by the stone domes which became distinctive of Mamluk architecture. A strange aquarium with stuffed fish, and almost no water for them to swim in. [1]:123 The land became abandoned and disused following a famine in the 11th century and was probably then used as a burial ground, which led to the name Qarafa being used to denote Cairo's urban cemeteries in general. [1][7], By the end of the Mamluk period in the 16th century, the decline of Cairo's population and wealth also led to the decline of the necropolis zones overall, particularly the old southern Qarafa. [1][3] The tombs themselves were often a better alternative to squatting or low-quality housing in the inner city, as they provided already-built structures with relatively ample room, although with little access to amenities. They include the Mausoleum and Khanqah of Amir Qawsun (founded in 1335) and the so-called "Sultaniyya" mausoleum (believed to be dedicated to Sultan Hassan's mother, in the mid-14th century).[1][7]. The issue is a concern for the conservation of historical monuments and it has often been cited by critics of the government as evidence of its inadequate housing and planning policies. [8], These developments and practices during the Fatimid era led to the emergence, or resurgence, of the popular traditions of visiting the graves of family members and ancestors for holidays and vacations. [6] Importantly, that area also became the site of many important tombs belonging to a number of the Prophet's descendants who emigrated to Egypt in this period, some of which, like those of Sayyida Ruqayya, Sayyida Nafisa and Sayyida Aisha, are still present today. It is a vast area of tombs stretching from the foot of the Cairo Citadel in the north to the densely-inhabited modern district of al-Basatin to the south. [15][1] In 2020, concerns were raised about the government's plan to build a bridge through the Northern Cemetery, which has resulted in some early 20th-century mausoleums being demolished, with little consultation from locals.[12]. [1] East of Kobri Al Ebageah is the slum settlement of Manshiyet Nasr rising into the Mokattam hills. [1][8] Along with their palaces, the Fatimids also built mosques, madrassas, and ribats for religious instruction and activities, all of which required the creation of infrastructure for water and other necessities. [1] North of this, the cemeteries around the Sayyida Nafisa Mosque are separated from the rest of the necropolis by the modern Salah Salem ring road, and form the neighbourhood of al-Khalifa which blends into the main urban fabric of Cairo at this point. [1] Modernization efforts led to the demolition of many old buildings in the historic districts of the city, displacing much of the poor and working class towards the outskirts of the city. [16], The cemetery is distinguished from the other two necropolises by its lack of monumental funerary structures, but also by the distinctive wooden enclosures that shelter the hawsh units here. The family of Muhammad Ali himself were buried in a lavish mausoleum known as the Hosh el-Pasha, built around 1854 near the Mausoleum of Imam al-Shafi'i. [16] Nonetheless, as mentioned above these districts also cover dense urban areas outside the necropolis, meaning that the number of people living inside the cemeteries themselves is likely much lower. [1] The UNESCO World Heritage Site entry for Historic Cairo lists the area as the "Al-Imam ash-Shaf'i Necropolis". [13] The intensified urbanization of Cairo itself, and the exclusion of the poorest from government initiatives, resulted in a more urgent need for informal or improvised housing. See. [8][9] The palace was later destroyed by Salah ad-Din and the mosque is no longer extant today. It also set a precedent for people living in the cemeteries, as the new establishments inside the Qarafa required workers to operate, and the religious foundations attracted scholars and Sufis. [12]) By 1947, the census had calculated the population of the districts including the cemeteries at 69,367, with population density having increased by a large factor. This desert area located between the Citadel, the city walls, and the Moqattam hills was crossed by the important pilgrimage road which led to Mecca. In this early period, monumental mausoleums were quite rare, graves were unadorned, and only the most important tombs might have had some distinguishing structure at all, as early Islam discouraged ostentatious tombs. [1] In turn, the Mamluks began to build their mausoleums here, also looking for more space. One impetus for this was the presence of the tombs of a number of descendants of the Prophet Muhammad and of 'Ali buried here earlier.

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